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Article - Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom Veterans with amputation: An exploration of resilience, employment and individual characteristics

Research Study Five (RS5)

An Exploration of Employment Barriers and Employment Skill Enhancement of Veterans with Traumatic Amputation

Study Team Leader(s):

Dr. Amy J Armstrong, Dr. Carolyn Hawley, and Dr. Ben Darter


This study will examine barriers to employment for veterans and service members with physical disabilities resulting from traumatic extremity amputation(s). The goal is to develop a novel multi-component model that promotes quality competitive employment outcomes.

Research Question(s):

  1. What are the barriers to successful employment specific to veterans with traumatic amputation?
  2. What are the current services offered to veterans with amputation seeking employment and what prevents/facilitates their use?
  3. What role does resilience play in returning to work following traumatic amputation?
  4. What are the critical elements of an RTW model for veterans with traumatic amputation?

Study Summary:

The study will use a mixed method design. Data will be collected and analyzed using an online survey, focus groups, ethnographic case studies and a Delphi study. The online survey will identify barriers to employment, current services/supports, and resilience. During focus groups, veterans will discuss the role of resilience and overall wellbeing in returning to work. Groups will be homogenous regarding employment status and amputation status. Ethnographic case studies will be developed by recruiting a sample of veterans representing both upper and lower, single and multiple amputations. Interviews and observations will assess employment experience, current services and supports utilized/needed, and perceptions of resilience and wellbeing. Finally, a Delphi study using experts on resilience, employment and trauma will discuss critical elements of a return to work model for veterans with traumatic amputation.

Expected Outcomes and Benefits:

Drawing from the data collected, the researchers will develop an evidence-based employment-focused intervention model. This holistic model will be designed to support individualized responses to challenges, ultimately resulting in employment opportunities as well as a healthier psychological and physical functioning. The goals of the study include the following.

  1. Explore the processes of job-seeking and job retention for veterans with severe amputations.
  2. Observe firsthand the barriers to job-seeking and job retention faced by veterans.
  3. Solicit information from the veterans, their families, their employers, and rehabilitation service providers regarding services that are utilized or needed in job-seeking and retention.
  4. Explore relationships between resilience factors and achievement of employment success.

For additional information contact:

Dr. Amy J. Armstrong